From animal ethics to a feminist inquest on how women internalise male surveillance, political relevance informs John Berger’s formidable gamut of works- from photography, paintings, and screenplays to novels, short stories, essays and poetry. He helped us grapple with history and memory by decoding the very visual and verbal language we use to approach them. A Marxist humanist in spirit, his breadth of vision and self-reflexivity is what is direly needed in the present that is fast becoming polarized in terms of its view of social problems.
Berger’s ‘Ways Of Seeing’ is storytelling in its finest genre, penned and narrated like a children’s film script, dismantling the false consciousness of the adult male empire, and the subjugation of the female body and mind, says Amit Sengupta.
Berger’s A Seventh Man seems more relevant today as the issue of migration has taken centre stage in present-day politics – from Trump to Brexit to the differential treatment of Hindu and Muslim migrants into India. Thomas Crowley reflects on how the book can help us make sense of (and humanise) the present context.
As she re-reads ‘Ways OF Seeing’ post Berger’s death, Paramita Banerjee takes a look at the chasm that exists between the women’s rights/gender rights movement on the one hand and the sexuality movement on the other – seeking to understand the way such a gap reinforces hetero-normative patriarchy, thereby harming both forms of struggle in reality.
Nabina Das tells us the fortunateness of Copper Coin and how the small poetry-publishing outfit acquired the rights to print the Indian edition of John Berger’s poetry collection.
In the post-modern half-century that we just lived through, the once revolutionary question – “is there such a thing a truth?” – has become a conventional, almost banal concept; a reflexive mental habit of serious academics and armchair philosophers alike, says Koli Mitra.
As a girl in Assam raises her voice on the social media against eve teasing, she took on the role of the performer. But Berger pointed out, “In public nobody can escape from it; everyone is forced to be either spectator or performer.” And so the public took over the role of a performer, writes Samudra Kajal Saikia.
Aritra Mukherjee extends the application of Berger’s concepts to the works of British painters like Thomas and William Daniell, thus justifiably moving beyond a cursory appraisal of the exquisite artwork to a deeper analysis of the painters’ compositional intentions.
“Like thousands of other Rohingya Muslims, Abdullah has a traumatised past and bleak future. He, like many others, is bitter, angry and helpless.” Ramesh Menon walks us through the tragic back-stories of a few such Rohingya refugees.
A couple of poems by Sayan Aich.